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Middle East and North Africa

Putting safe water on the development agenda

Christopher Walsh's picture

April 23, 2010 - Washington DC., World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Water and Sanitation Event.

Not even the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull could keep the Netherlands’ Prince of Orange, the chair of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and the World Bank’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from participating in a Davos-style panel discussion of solutions for the 2.6 billion people who still lack access to sanitation.

The BBC’s Katty Kay moderated today’s official Spring Meetings event, which also included South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Patience Sonjica; Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health Gloria Steele; Ek Sonn Chan from Cambodia’s General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority; and IFC’s Executive VP Lars Thunell.

I haven’t seen the Bank’s J building mini-amphitheater filled with that much energy since, well, ever.  The standing room-only event started with a delighted Ngozi acknowledging the crowd for bringing the issue of water and sanitation to such a high level on the occasion of the Spring Meetings.

Global Monitoring Report 2010: What about Population Growth?

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

April 23, 2010 - Washington DC., World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings 2010. Global Monitoring Report: The MDGs after the Crisis.

Measuring human progress is a messy, complicated effort. The Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, are an effort to bring some standardization to that process, but the 8 globally agreed goals are viewed by some as a construct that handicaps the poorer countries into a race where they started a lap behind many other nations.

It's 10 years since the goals were agreed and 2010 has been designated the 'Year of the MDGs' by the UN and its partners. If all this helps feed hungry families, educate more kids and increase the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, I'm all for it. Good thing I feel that way, since I was working with the team that launched the Global Monitoring Report 2010: The MDGs After the Crisis on April 23.

Yet beyond the goals, targets and exhortations, as well as useful forecasts of extreme poverty rates in 2015, I wonder about the elephant in the room: population growth.

Spring Meetings: What’s on the agenda?

Angie Gentile's picture

Development Committee meeting. Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

“Spring Meetings” is the name used to describe a series of events—seminars, roundtables, press briefings and official meetings—spread over five or so days every year and all geared toward one thing: improving the lives of people in the developing world.

Discussions throughout the week focus on a broad range of topics (see meetings and civil society forum schedules) and are in many ways a prelude to the main event—the official meeting of the Development Committee—a group of 24 finance and development ministers appointed by each of the countries, or groups of countries, represented on the Boards of Executive Directors of the Bank and Fund. This year's meeting is set for Sunday, April 25.

The Development Committee meets twice a year and advises the Boards on critical development issues and on the financial resources needed to promote economic development in developing countries. The President of the Bank has a special responsibility to propose topics that he believes require the ministers’ attention.

This year’s agenda, just announced, includes:

  • Strengthening Development after the Crisis: World Bank Group Post-Crisis Directions, Internal Reforms and Financial Capacity
  • World Bank Group Voice Reform: Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing and Transition Countries in 2010 and Beyond

One more promise kept: the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

Fionna Douglas's picture

Launch of Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

A remarkable thing happened at the US Treasury in DC today; the United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to pool resources, and as Bill Gates described it, “put small holder farmers, especially women, front and center” of a new multilateral agriculture and food security program. The Gates Foundation will contribute $30 million.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) will focus on increasing agricultural productivity and linking farmers to markets. A special feature of the program is the focus on country ownership that puts countries in the driver’s seat.

The GAFSP was created in response to a call from G20 leaders last year for the World Bank to work with interested donor to set up a multi-donor trust fund to implement some of the $22 billion in pledges made by the G8 leaders at L’Aquila, Italy.

Zoellick: ‘Spring Meetings a turning point for World Bank’

Angie Gentile's picture

April 22, 2010 - Washington DC., World Bank/ IMF Spring Meetings. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, opening press conference. Photo: Simone McCourtie/World Bank.Bank President Robert Zoellick just gave his traditional pre-Spring Meetings briefing to the press, where he talked about a multipolar world economy and how the World Bank is changing to meet the needs of a new reality.

“Economic and political tectonic plates are shifting,” he said. Developing countries are key sources of demand for recovery from the crisis, and “over time, they can become multiple poles of growth.”


 

Zoellick said the Spring Meetings represent a turning point for the World Bank. Over the weekend, the institution’s 186 shareholders will be considering four issues:

  • the first capital increase in more than 20 years
  • whether to give developing countries a bigger say in the running the institution
  • the Bank’s post-crisis strategy, and
  • the most comprehensive reform program in the Bank’s history.

"Agreement on this package of measures, if successful, would represent a multilateral success story,” he said.

 
For more information:

 

World Development Indicators 2010 launched on data.worldbank.org

Richard Fix's picture

World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings2010 - World Development Indicators 2010 Launch and Open Data Initiative announced. Justin Lin, World Bank Chief Economist talks about free data.

We launched the 2010 World Development Indicators today, except this year we launched it on data.worldbank.orgthe Bank’s new open data site that frees up more than 2,000 indicators previously available only to paying subscribers. We’re pushing to share our data with the world, and the WDI is a wonderful platform for this. Year after year, we pull together data from many places—across international agencies and countries-- in one place to draw a statistical image of the world. This year, whole new audiences will be able to access our work.

Since I joined the Bank, I have worked with a team of economists, statisticians, and others to produce a new WDI each year. Every April, we unveiled a new edition that revealed new facts about development. It was our chance to describe development by the numbers. But the numbers were not enough. We needed to explain the numbers, make it easier for others to pull knowledge from all these facts. The essays, the detailed descriptions and definitions of the data were a step in the right direction, but we needed to do more.

Spring Meetings 'Can Represent a Landmark in Bank's History'

Angie Gentile's picture

Delegates, civil society members and press from around the world are set to converge in Washington for  the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. (See the schedule of events.) The week is packed with meetings, briefings and lectures covering topics ranging from strategies for post-economic crisis recovery to the first effort in 20 years to raise capital for the World Bank.

But many continue to wonder what the fallout will be of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland last week--from the effects on countries to disruptions in international air travel.

Zoellick: End of the Third World?

Julia Ross's picture

April 14, 2010 - Washington DC - World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick speaks at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC

Setting the scene for next week’s Spring Meetings, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said today the world has changed since the financial crisis, the third world is gone and we now live in a multipolar economy.

At Washington, D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Zoellick told an audience of diplomats, economists and international development specialists, “We are now in a new, fast-evolving, multipolar world economy, in which some developing countries are emerging as economic powers; others are moving towards becoming additional poles of growth, and some are struggling to attain their potential within this new system.”

“It is time we put old concepts of First and Third Worlds, leader and led, donor and supplicant behind us,” he said.

The speech drew several questions on the Bank’s response to the financial crisis and how it is helping developing countries adapt to the new global economy Zoellick described.

MENA: Economists finding some good news

Alison Schafer's picture

In Istanbul, World Bank economists taking a hard look at how the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are weathering the financial crisis are finding some good news. The World Bank and the IMF are holding their annual meetings in Turkey, and a status update on the MENA region shows some resilience.

Shamshad Akhtar, the World Bank’s new vice president for the region, said at a press conference today that MENA’s economy grew by almost 6.2 percent in 2008. But Akhtar says the region has been shaken by what she calls the “Triple-F phenomena”—food, fuel and the financial crisis. She says the food crisis has hit the region hardest, in part because of a growing population and a heavy dependence on imported food. But, she says, despite slowing growth, down to 2.2 percent, the region is faring better than many others.

 

 

Akhtar told reporters: “The key message we retain from all this is: the MENA region has weathered the triple crisis well so far.” But there is an “immediate danger of rising unemployment and resurgence of poverty.”

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